Hero - Bless This Nation

Ok, before I even heard one note of this band I had VERY mixed feelings about whether this would be good or not.  Nothing personal, but the lead singer and guitar player of Hero was none other than Michael Hero - the lead vocalist and guitarist for Sons of Thunder.  Now, Sons of Thunder was decent musically, but I couldn't stand their vocal style and their lyrics were INCREDIBLY cheesy.  Yes, they were bold for Christ, but they were far from being serious in many instances.  However, two of the members that join Hero on this release are none other than Torbjörn Weinesjö and Thomas Weinesjö of Veni Domine!  Now, Veni Domine is a very different story than Sons of Thunder.  I have been a huge fan of VD since I was 17 years old when I first bought their Fall Babylon Fall album.  

Anyways...I about lost it when this disc started.  A dorky sounding voice comes out and says..."Hero...Bless this Nation...what kind of crap is this?"  I was like, NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!  Don't do that kinda stuff to start your album!  Then to end the song the dorky voice comes back and says..."Well, it wasn't that bad."  Then, at the end of the album the dorky voice returns again and says, "Hero...probably the best band in the world!"  I wanted to tear my clothes and sit in sackcloth and ashes!!  Co'mon guys!  This is cheese of mammoth proportions!  Geesh!!

So, now that we know that there is some cheesy carried over from Sons of Thunder, is there some redeemable things about this band?  Thankfully, yes.  Musically, the band keeps things rockin' hard with a solid hard rock/heavy metal sound with some good melodies and quality guitar playing, which includes some fine solos and some huge crunchy riffs.  The drums, bass and keyboards are also well done to round out the instrumental side of the band.  However, the vocals are where the inconsistencies start to appear.  Michael Hero has a rough voice that sometimes fits the songs, but at other times makes you wish the song was an instrumental.  He does sing with a great deal of passion, but at other times he just sounds kinda fake with a whiney/drunk like "tough" vocal style.  Then there is bassist Björn Sundström, who supplies us with some very good backing vocals that give many of the songs a good lift.  There are also some female vocals that sometimes work out great (see the song "Battery"), but at other times, like in the worship-styled rock song "Heart of Gold", it just doesn't work in my opinion.  Nothing wrong with worship songs, but this songs just kinda clashes with the rest of the album.

Lyrically, the songs are very Christ-centered and a little on the simplistic side...sometimes bordering on the cheesy Sons of Thunder style...but not as bad.  Production on the disc is pretty solid and the artwork, while nicely done, is nothing to write home about.

So, does Hero get a better grade than Sons of Thunder.  I definitely think so.  The vocals still need some work, the lyrics need a little more depth, and the cheese needs to disappear completely, but the music and passion the band plays with gives me hope that this band has some hope for the future.

Rating: 53/100

Review By: Matt Morrow

Label: Independent

Total Songs: 10

Total Time: 35:21

Tracklisting: 1. All on Fire, 2. Holy, 3. Deo Gloria, 4. Forever, 5. Battery, 6. Heart of Gold, 7. Superior, 8. Heroes Place, 9. Hero, 10. Bless this Nation.

Best Songs: 2, 3, & 5.

Band Lineup: Björn Sundström - Bass/Keyboards/Backing Vocals, Michael Hero - Vocals/Guitars, Torbjörn Weinesjö - Guitars, Thomas Weinesjö - Drums.

Band Website: http://www.heroesplace.com